Life changes in 2012 and looking forward to 2013

This post is word-heavy, so if you are only wanting pretty pictures, you are forewarned.

Can you believe 2012 has come and gone already? It amazes me how slowly the days go by, but how quickly the years do. 2012 has been a year of change, simplification, and reflection for me. I spent a good majority of the year deliberating and figuring out exactly what I want out of this blog. I’m happy to report that I have a clear direction now, and am very happy with my decisions. More on that in a minute though.

I say 2012 was a year of change and simplification for me because our family went through some serious life changes this past year – most of which I haven’t really mentioned on the blog. We went gluten-free. We started tackling our finances a la Dave Ramsey. And I’ve been on a quest to just get rid of all the crap and simplify my life. In 2012 we started finally getting our lives in order.

After several years of dealing with unexplained health issues (mainly crippling fatigue and thyroid issues) I read a book called Wheat Belly. It sounds corny, but it changed my life. I’ve been gluten-free/wheat-free for about 5 months and have never felt better and I have even lost 16 lbs. My husband read the book and dropped wheat as well. After dealing with ADHD issues with our son for 3 years, and hating that he is on medication, we took him off gluten as well. (And also red food dye). His hyperactivity is virtually gone, and he is finally medication-free. Going gluten-free has been life altering.

Dave Ramsey
In addition to taking back our health, we also have started taking back our finances. It has been a long, hard road to pay off all our debt and become financially free. We aren’t there yet, but we have made some serious progress. I know that if we continue to stick with this plan, we will be able to pay for our kids to go to college and we will have a fully-funded retirement account. Dave Ramsey isn’t just about paying off your debt – that is only a small part of the plan. It is a complete life plan for your finances. Cutting up our credit cards this year and going on a cash only plan has taught us how to budget, how to save, and how to wait until we can afford something before we purchase it.

The final big change we made in 2012 was to simplify our lives. The crap and clutter were getting me down. I felt like my life was out of control and I was just along for the ride. I made a conscious decision this year to not purchase any home decor unless I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. I went through our house and got rid of anything we weren’t using. I got rid of all my piles of decor that didn’t have a home. I had a garage sale and I donated tons of stuff to family, friends, and the thrift store. Excess stuff weighs me down. I feel like I can’t breathe. I want my home and life to be simple and intentional. I’m not there yet, but I have big plans to continue simplifying in 2013.

Blog goals for 2013
Oh, where do I begin with this topic? I have started and re-started blog posts about my blog plans so many times, but they always end up in the trash can. I can never seem to get my intentions down on paper in a way that I feel comfortable sharing. But I’ll give it a go anyway.

I spent 2012 thinking about my blog and what my plans are for the future. At the beginning of the year I was neck-deep in Sponsors, product reviews, giveaways, partnerships, and affiliates. I liked the money, but to be 100% honest, I hated that part of my blog. I went down that path because everyone else was doing it, so that must be what I need to be doing too. As a blog grows, it naturally needs to start promoting and making more money, right? My calendar was chock full of awesome opportunities with lots of businesses. And I was miserable. Mis-ra-ble. I started this blog to share my journey decorating my house and doing home-y stuff. As my traffic grew, I started getting requests from companies to promote their stuff. They would pay me and I would get free stuff. Double bonus. So I went along. Before I knew it, I had a full-fledged LLC, I was filing quarterly taxes, and I was working a lot of hours a week.

One day, I just said enough is enough. What I want is a hobby blog. I know that I can make a career out of my blog if I wanted to, but that isn’t what I want. I don’t want a career. I am fortunate enough to stay at home with my kids, and what I want to do is stay at home with my kids! I want to be present in their lives, not just in the same room as them while I’m plugging away on my laptop trying to meet deadlines. I make a nice part-time income on my ad networks alone, so I dropped all my sponsors. I finished up all my contracts and partnerships. I started telling everyone no. And I started blogging again as if it were a hobby that I love doing. I still work with two companies because I absolutely love working with them and I enjoy that partnership. I can’t say I won’t ever have sponsors again, or that I will even continue working with the two I’m with. I just want to see how it goes and do what genuinely makes me happy.

I don’t know if you even noticed, or if you can even tell a difference, but I am so much happier. And I love my blog again. I actually want to write posts to share my updates with you. It isn’t a chore anymore. I try to stick to a 3x a week schedule, but even that isn’t set in stone. I just blog when I’m happy and I have something to share. I have been very sick this month with bronchitis, so I just took some time off and recovered instead of worrying about getting a post up. It was nice to not have the stress, but I did miss you guys!

And the funny thing? The second I dropped my sponsors and stopped promoting stuff, my page views increased and I started making even more money from the ad networks. So honesty, the pay has pretty much stayed the same even without all the promoting. It’s a win/win. I’m a happier blogger and I feel like my readers are happier to not read promotional stuff anymore. I know it’s awkward to mention making money by blogging, and I generally steer clear of that topic in fear of getting flamed (again and again), but the fact is, I do make some money from the blog. 50% goes to taxes and blog bills, and the remainder I use to fund any projects that I blog about and pay to go to blog conferences.

So there you have it. What I accomplished in 2012, and what my blog goals are for 2013 (to just keep on having a good time).

And now, here are my top 5 most viewed projects in 2012:

Coming in at #1 is How to Mount your TV on the wall and hide the cords.

This really surprised me. I wasn’t even going to write this post, but Ben encouraged me and said it would be a good one. It is the most controversial post on my blog and continues to receive the most negative comments of any post I’ve ever written. I’ve regretted posting it on numerous occasions.

My 2nd most popular post is How to Make Professional Lined Curtain Panels.

I thought this post was going to be the most popular post because it has been pinned so many times. I’m glad everyone has enjoyed making their own curtains.

Number 3? How to make a cheap awesome curtain rod.

I still love this post and think these rods are the bees knees.

My 4th most popular post is Pumpkin Cookies.

These things are by far the best pumpkin cookie I have ever tasted, so I’m glad you guys like them too! And I’ve even made them with Gluten-Free baking flour and they are perfect.

And finally, my 5th most popular post of 2012 is How to paint straight lines.

I still paint this way and I still think it’s the best way to get a crisp line.

What is funny is only one of these 5 posts was even written in 2012. I guess I need to step up my game and start putting out more popular tutorials again. Or I should be grateful that my old content continues to inspire. I ended 2012 with 3.2 million page views – more than 2010 and 2011 combined. I’m continually in awe that anyone even wants to read my little corner of the net, much less more than 3 million page views last year (and almost 2 million visitors!). It cracks me up because I feel like such a huge dork all the time.

Thanks for reading, I’m glad you love the blog, and I hope I can exceed all your expectations for this next year.

Love ya!

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